Race Over The Glens

It is traditionally a busy time of the year and no sooner has the Christmas Cracker been put to bed than we are contemplating the Race over the Glens on New Year’s Day. Now, New Year’s Day up at Glenariff Forest Park can be a pretty grim place to be weather wise. It does require a bit of an effort to get there as well, even for the 12 noon start.

Most of us will have been imbibing a little the night before and the prospect of a fairly stiff six mile run the next day does not usually sit well with the majority of us, at least the ordinary mortals amongst us. The Race over the Glens is certainly not one for the faint hearted. You will run most of it but there are parts of it which preclude running…or even walking.

However, once you get over the finish line you will be pleased with yourself because you have got your New Year off to a fairly athletic start, although it tends to be downhill after that. It can be very cold up there, but do keep an eye on the situation. Many of us started with base layers last year and soon regretted it. Tie your shoe laces well too, because for some reason they will become undone more quickly in the Glens than elsewhere. The race is organised and run by Ballymena Runners and a very good job they do as well. It is mostly on forest trails and there are some excellent views if you have the energy to appreciate them.

The strains of a lone glens’ piper, reminding us of this area’s close connections with Scotland just across the way, will add to the atmosphere. Sometimes he plays a lament for both the struggling and the fallen! My advice to the partaker is… just turn up and take your time. Forget about time and position, because no one will really notice anyway. I have always loved the Glens… this is God’s country, summer or winter, … and it is just such a privilege to be there regardless of the situation in hand or the challenge that lies ahead. Forget about the race! Just to be amongst the pines and the hills on New Year’s Day with like minded people, and to have the health and vitality to even contemplate the run, is one of the great privileges of life and for which we should all be thankful.

By about 11.30am the car park at Glenariff, a large one, was nearly full. At about the same time the heavens opened and there was torrential rain that threatened to put in jeopardy the very running of the race. However, about ten minutes before the start the rain abated, it became much brighter and the temperature rose by several degrees. Off we went in near enough perfect conditions, albeit a little damp and muddy in places with one or two icy puddles to avoid.

In the end ten members turned up to run, eight gents and two ladies, and the following times were achieved by them:

Thomas Leitch 41.48 (18th/369)
Robin Montgomery 44.13
Paul Woodman 44.58
Tim Robinson 47.52
Brian Todd 49.30
Rodney Corrigan 49.43
Stephen Hamilton 52.18
Liz Leitch 53.21
Emma McWilliams 54.51
Adrian Sproule 1.02.25

Great running in particular from the two ladies. At the head of the gents, Thomas had the added burden of sporting the Number 1 bib but he was, clearly, unfazed by it. As usual Robin was flying and great to see that domestic duties have not sapped too much of Paul Woodman’s energy over the past few months.